Friday, 31 July 2015

How To Become An Exceptional Employer

It takes a little effort to be a decent human being.

When we were children, we were taught principles which later became values and shaped our characters: Respect everyone; be considerate; be charitable, do onto others as you would have them do onto you, etc.

As adults, due to societal pressures and the prioritisation of 'self', we often struggle to adhere to the admirable tenet of being our brother's keeper. On a subconscious level however, we all want to matter. We want to be of value to someone or something and we desire to be treated with dignity.

It's no wonder that such a quest for worth extends to our careers.

Fair or not, we look to our employers to be 'decent' entities.

We are realistic: we know that they are in business to make money - a development that serves our need to be employed. We realise that due to globalisation and its impact on our careers, at some point we would become expendable.

We also understand, as some researchers in organisational behavioural science have echoed, that lifelong employment might no longer be possible and that we are retained to the extent that we can provide value to organisations. In exchange, we are rewarded with reasonable compensation packages, as well as training and resources to be efficient in our roles in order to be employable elsewhere, should the need be.  (Coyle-Shapiro, 2000).

Nonetheless,  for the duration of our stints in companies, we believe that employers could rise above the status of simply being 'decent'; they could become exceptional.

The rewards? Our increased engagement  leading  to less absenteeism, reduction in turnover and increased customer satisfaction - factors which translate to higher performance at the workplace.

In a nutshell, as a prospective exceptional employer we want you to:

1) Show us that we matter to you

It's not always about the money. As Badgeville's infographic below illustrates, 70% of us are more motivated by non-monetary rewards at work.


Surprised to know that 83% of us prefer recognition for our work than rewards or gifts? Or that 90% of us find a fun work environment "very or extremely" motivating? What about the revelation that in every age group, opportunities for growth are a more motivating factor for staying in a company than pay increases?

Well, armed with those statistics, you could differentiate your company from the pack and earn yourself  committed and loyal staff.

2) Prioritise clear communication 

This may sound simple but do you really listen to us and then take actions to address our concerns?

Are you willing to go back to the basics to create a 'listening culture' that would benefit us both?

We also value factual and timely feedback. Therefore,  promoting an atmosphere whereby communication is prioritisedfrom top management to new entrants, empowers us in our roles and prepares us for future crises.

Note  this:

So say what you mean and mean what you say. Take two-way jargon-free communication seriously...and you won't regret it when you notice increased productivity at the workplace.

3) Uphold fairness and promote transparency

You should neither have 'inner circles', nor a preference for promoting the interests of certain C-suite executives to the detriment of your workforce.

While experienced professionals bring a wealth of experience and much needed insight to the company's operations, these three groups of executives cause havoc by their behaviours and must be swiftly weeded out when consistent complaints are made by the staff. (There should already be an functional communication channel via which employees are encouraged to express their dissatisfaction).

When incidents of discrimination and harassment have been reported, we expect you to do the following:

- Launch an independent investigation;

- Strongly renounce the offence;

- Discipline the perpetrators by adhering strictly to sanctions listed in your policy without fear or favour;

- Compensate the victim appropriately by offering whatever financial, legal or psychological aid (i.e. therapy) that is required  for his well-being.

In order words, we want you to be fair. The employee handbooks and other corporate manuals were penned for a reason - to support the vision of the company as it relates to the humane management of its manpower.

Rules should not be waived because the CEO  plays golf with the Chairman twice a month; nor because the chief operating officer and the chief financial officer were roommates at university; nor because the HR boss comes from the same town as the technical director.

For other issues relating to compensation packages, promotions and career development, we also request that you be transparentCareer progression must be based on competence and experience; no one should be denied a coveted spot because of age, gender, ethnicity etc.

Being fair and transparent would make you more credible. When we trust your leadership, we will support you in ways you wouldn't imagine.


Now we realise that the points above might appear impractical to some. Others would reckon that they cannot be implemented due to historical or cultural influences or because of business concerns like cost reduction and lean management. 

Still, you should ask this question:

"How important are our talented staff - in whom we have invested Xamount in Yyears to train, develop and handle large/complex projects - to our operations this year?"

Since we drive your productivity to levels envied by your rivals and boost your reputation, the truth is that losing us to competitors by simply being 'decent'  would be easy.

To retain us, you need to become exceptional. It doesn’t matter if you are a large organisation or a small business; you’ll need to evolve. It takes courage, a commitment to change and a culture of continuity to ensure that new processes 'stick', but start the process anyway. When we see the efforts being made, we will be encouraged to go 'over and beyond' what is expected.

And that's a promise.

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N.B- First image courtesy of Cooldesign; via Second image courtesy of Ammer; via Embedded tweets courtesy of author’s twitter account. Third and fourth images courtesy of Stuart Miles; via 


  1. Nice article.

  2. An interesting article.
    Quite agree that recognising work by staff vital whether in small or big ways.
    Bonuses are ideal but praise by words is definitely important e.g. timely feedback etc.

    Look forward to your next article. (AE)

    1. Exactly! At the most basic level, we all want to be appreciated and valued for our contributions to the company.

      Thanks for reading and commenting AE.

  3. Chike Emeka (via University of Leicester Alumni Group on LinkedIn)13 August 2015 at 08:16

    These are very informative and feasible solutions of the everyday challenges in Contemporary organisations.

    1. Thank you Chike Emeka for your comment. Let's hope it opens the door to more reflection. The employment relationship should really benefit both the employer and employee to be effective.

  4. A very informative article. At times we do know what to do; but we close our eyes to these concerns due to work load
    Thanks for waking us up

    1. Thanks Madhuri Sharon for your candid comment. Glad you found the post useful.

      We all need reminders from time to time to reflect on what is important.

      Have a great day!


We know you have opinions. Kindly post your comments.